Arts and Culture | Local

Capitol Steps zing politicos to benefit UA Hillel

Capitol Steps performer as Sarah Palin. (Capitol Steps)
Capitol Steps performer as President Barack Obama. (Capitol Steps)

The Capitol Steps have sung about it all — from Bill Clinton’s sexcapades to George W. Bush’s language-shattering syntax. The Washington-based group will bring their equally-offensive-to-all musical satire to the University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. The performance will benefit the UA Hillel Foundation.

“Desperate Housemembers,” the Capitol Steps’ 2011 CD, includes “Hotel Arizona” — sung to the tune of the Eagles’ hit “Hotel California” — about an immigrant looking for work in Arizona who stumbles upon a border patrol agent, says Mark Eaton, a co-writer and performer in the group. “Now we have Gov. Jan Brewer’s finger that was leading Mitt Romney by two points in the Florida primary,” he says, adding, “The Republicans like a strong candidate.”

If audience members think the group “is picking on your guy too much, just wait,” says Eaton, who was a legislative assistant for Rep. Jesse Helms (R-NC) from 1987 to 1994. “We’ll get to the other guy soon enough. We enjoy making fun of these guys. We’re equal opportunity offenders.”

The Capitol Steps formed in 1981 when some Capitol Hill staffers for Sen. Charles Percy, an Illinois Republican, put together a show for the holidays. Since then, the group has recorded more than 30 albums, including “Liberal Shop of Horrors” and “Barackin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” They’ve been featured on major television networks and perform annually on National Public Radio stations during their “Politics Takes a Holiday” radio specials. The Capitol Steps have performed for five presidents.

“I started in 1993 while still working on the hill,” says Eaton, who co-writes material with Steps co-founder Elaina Newport. “I was always a wise guy, a part-time performer.” Eaton turned into a full-time “wise guy” with the Steps in 1999. “There are 20 to 25 members of the cast, who are pretty much like America,” he told the AJP, “with extreme left-wingers, extreme right-wingers, extreme moderates and zealous apathetics,” adding that five cast members, three men and two women, and a pianist comprise the cast for every show.

Shows are performed on many college campuses and for lots of D.C. associations. “We prefer people to come see us live,” says Eaton. “The way the headlines are constantly changing it’s a fluid kind of show. If something [big] happens in the morning we will include it in an evening show,” which often surprises people.

The group goes back to the days of Reagan, “when he was accused of sleeping in his office,” notes Eaton. “Obama is not that funny but he surrounds himself with funny people, like Joe Biden.”

The Tucson show “will have something with Jan Brewer pointing her finger,” he says. “Even in the fast-moving world of politics, I’m sure people in Arizona will remember this.”

Tickets range from $33 to $53, and are available at UA Presents, 621-3341 or Sponsorship opportunities are available through UA Hillel, 624-6561.